Posts Tagged holiday

Black Turkey X

10 December 2006

For the uninitiated, every year Julie and I throw a massive party for an ever-increasing number of guests somewhere around the second Saturday of December that resembles many other holiday parties except for one main and important feature: we cook up a couple of turkeys, one of which is infamous in its appearance and flavor — the ‘Black Turkey’.
I first discovered Black Turkey ( ) on an alt.recipes post back in the early nineties, and the entertaining narrative of the recipe immediately captured my imagination. I had to find some reason, some excuse, to try out this recipe. It’s hard to justify such a massive undertaking for just yourself, or you and your wife, so I knew I had to invite over a collection of my more adventurous friends and give this a shot. Worse came to worse, I’d throw it out and order in Chinese. But as it turns out, the meal was a success. The recipe did not fail to deliver on its promise of a bird that was black as charcoal and appeared as if I had truly screwed up and created an inedible mess, and yet once the egg-mortared skin was removed and the tender, juicy flesh was revealed beneath, there was no question that this was indeed the best turkey I or anyone else in the group had ever tasted. I knew I had the beginnings of a great tradition on my hand, and every year since we’ve thrown this party to larger and larger crowds. Soon the crowds became too much for a single turkey, so we added a second (now class) bird to the mix, marinated in a brine solution for at least a day, and cooked / smoked on the weber using indirect heat and lots of apple wood chips. This we’ve dubbed ‘the drunken squab’ (not actually a squab), and its sweet, smokey, spicy flavor is as renowned as the original bird.
Last night we had our tenth annual Black Turkey party, and by now we’ve become quite the experts, knowing what we need to buy or rent, how to set up shop, get the birds on and off in time, and server a group of 40-50 people with relative grace. Last night we were missing a number of our long-time attendees (Jason, Jen and family, Chrys and Shawn, Chris H., Matt, and others that couldn’t make it), but we saw a number of new faces in their stead (Lyn and Rich, Vincent & Bev, Angela & Luke and Luke’s mother straight from Australia, and strangely Jai has never been to a Black Turkey until last night). We had to contend with rain and wind, but we managed to all stay inside and stay dry and warm. After the food was consumed I pulled out the last of the stash of my bottled mead (don’t worry, there’s more on the way!), and shared with many a brew that they had never had before. I so love sharing my creations, and it was much appreciated by all. Of course, I had more than my fair share of the mead and woke up today with the telltale signs of excess. No matter, that’s all part of the experience.
Today I’m spending the day processing the remains of the meal, making turkey stock, and taking stock of what needs to be cleaned, packed, put away or returned. The day after is as much of the tradition as the day of. I do know that I couldn’t do it without Julie, who does so much of the decorating, arranging, and most importantly, cleaning. Although I’m the one behind the apron, she’s the one behind the rest of the event. It’s definitely a team effort.
So thanks everyone who came and made it another great year for all of us. For those that missed it this year, I look forward to seeing you at next year’s Black Turkey.

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